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The spire, and minaret from the distent dome, And castle hoar, and fane, and royal home; The olive grove, the dark majestic palm, The cypress saddening in the pensive calm . And in the liquid distance many an isle Gleamed in his yellow beams and parting smile; And there the lowing herds adown the hill Meander to their homes by glade and rill; The weary peasants by the cabin door, To Pandean pipes their simple idyls pour; Maidens reclining under myrtle trees, Bathe their dark brows in the melliferous breeze, Send their wild mirth along the vales afar, And greet with glowing eyes the evening star— Oh! who would deem at such soft twilight time Sorrow could rear her throne, in that delightful clime.
High on Leucadia's famed and jutting rock,
Up from the sea. One small hand held her lute,
The other rested on its strings all mute
As they had never breathed eternal songs
Of fervent Love—and Love's immortal wrongs :—
Her darkly curtained eyes had not yet wept,
Though all her life in one black tissue swept
Before her now—
"I would sing one song more— One wild undying strain ere life be o'er; I'd breathe my soul away in song sublime, And leave my tears upon the sands of time: I'd stir the fountains in the breasts of sages, And ring my sorrows in the ears of ages— I'd give a tongue to future centuries, To talk of Sappho's love lorn melodies; How through the Lesbian Vales whilom she sung, And on the smiles of faithless Phaon hung; How she, forsaken, sought Leucadia's steep, And from it made the immortal Sapphic leap: Ay! I would gather in this latest theme, Of my lone lute, my heart's benighted dream— These fierce consuming fires that girt my soul, So that when Phaon glances o'er the scroll I leave, my fate may flash upon his heart Swift as from clouds the long pent lightnings dart; Awake, my spirit! nor within me die!
Srike on the key-note of thine agony;
Ring out one anthem more !—one sad farewell!
To love and life! Oh! breathe in it thy knell!
Thy requiem !—a dagger make each tone,
To pierce false Phaon's heart when I am gone!"
She said ; then swept its straining cords—hut fleet
As struck, her lute fell shattered at her feet.
She gazed upon it as it quivering lay,
And said—" Thus have life, hope, love passed away.*
Upon that melting scene, those glowing skies,
She cast around her sad and swimming eyes,
And to them breathed a silent, long farewell;
For in her earlier years they held a spell
Upon her lute, and she had of them sung
Ere wrong, with ruthless hand her heart had wrung.
Then turning, gazed afar across the sea,
To where young Phaon dwelt,—bright Sicily;
Then her heart swelled—to every woe awake,
And beat the narrow cage it could not break—
"Yes,—yes,—inconstant Phaon! thou art there Heedless of Sappho's love and lone despair. 9
I see thee in the grove—thy noble form
Move on,—a maiden hanging on thine arm,
And drinking thy sweet words erst breathed to me—
Forsake me, reason—thought—and memory !—
I see thee in the gay Sicilian dance,
Bending upon the fair thy tender glance;
Where diamonds gleam, and dazzling beauty glows;
The song swells high, the sparkling goblet flows;
Joy, laughing, sits enthroned on many a brow;
I see thee by a beauteous maiden now—
Love's fickle vows—thy witching flatteries hear,
As thou dost breathe them in her willing ear.
0 misery! why am I thus awake?
Sad heart of mine, oh! wilt thou never break \
There's but one remedy for such deep woe;
A fearful antidote—but be it so!
And must I go ?—from thee no farewell sigh;
No word to soothe my last sharp agony;
No smile to cheer me in the hour of death ?—
Oh! for some power swift as the lightning's breath,
To catch my dying shriek as I depart,
And ring it as a death-knell in thy heart.
"And yet I would not chide thee, Phaon !—No I But I would wake thee to a sense of woe, And all the misery that thou hast wrought, And why a home beneath the waves I sough:
When thou wert far away. May peace be thine!
"Phaon, thou wert the fond reality
Of my youth's cherished dream,—the phantasy
That hath beguiled me from my earliest days,
Luring me on—the theme of all my lays,
The pole-star of my heart on love's soft sea,
The dayspring of my life—my Deity!
That I might win thy heart, and make thee mine—
A dream too pure, too heavenly, too divine
For earth !—I've toiled through long and weary yearo,
In hours I stole from slumber—life's dull cares,
And earned a laurel for my fading brow,
That will not wither like thy fragile vow ;—
Yes, I have swept my lyre through Lesbian isles,
Till it has won from kings their softest smiles;
And royal dames have worshipped where I trod,
As there had been enshrined their favorite god;